Institutional Research and Planning

Institutional Effectiveness:
Educational Programs 

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

Because student learning is paramount to the mission of our institution, and the assessment of student learning leads to findings and results that could improve the curriculum, services and processes within a degree program, the assessment of student and program outcomes is on-going and comprehensive. In other words, all educational programs from every school and college, on campus and at a distance, and across all levels, are included in the outcomes assessment process. For the purposes of this initiative, reports on progress toward program and student learning outcomes are specific to degree and certificate educational programs. Each educational program:

  • Identifies expected outcomes,
  • Assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and
  • Provides evidence of seeking improvement based on the analysis of the results.

For more information, please contact:  Jaci Webb-Dempsey, Ph.D., Director of Program Assessment, Accreditation and Development, Cameron School of Business, College of Health and Human Services & Watson College of Education,  (910) 962-2161 and Courtney B. Sanders, Ph.D, Director of Assessment, College of Arts and Sciences, (910) 962-2653. 

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Student learning outcomes specify the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that learners are expected to attain in courses or in a program's experience, such as an internship or field placement. 

The results of the assessment of SLOs affirms that UNCW is successful at achieving its mission, and can be used to inform decisions about curricular and instructional revisions. At appropriate times, student learning outcomes and assessment methods are evaluated and revised.

Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Each educational program has a set of learning outcomes which specifies the knowledge, skills and dispositions that all program completers will demonstrate at a certain degree of proficiency. Program learning outcomes serve as a standard of performance for all program graduates and faculty to ensure that completers are career-ready and competitive in the next stage of their professional path, whether it be on the job or in graduate school. The course-specific SLOs inform the comprehensive nature of the PLOs. The aggregate results of the assessment of PLOs further confirms that UNCW is successful in making progress towards its mission, and can be used to inform decisions about programmatic revisions. At appropriate times, program learning outcomes and assessment methods are evaluated and revised, and these revisions are typically based on updates to national or professional standards, common practices in higher education, emerging technology and requirements for licensure or certification.

The Role of Faculty

Instructors-of-record are the persons qualified to teach the course(s) and who have overall responsibility for the development/implementation of the syllabus, the achievement of student learning outcomes included as part of the syllabus, and for issuing grades. The program's full-time faculty are responsible for the quality and integrity of the program and its associated credentials. This means that faculty members work to identify and assess student and program learning outcomes, along with other academic services.  The full-time faculty have responsibility for facilitating the teaching and learning enterprise, which includes coordinating the educational program(s) to which s/he is assigned, in order to assure that the curriculum maintains quality content and pedagogy, and contains curricular and discipline currency in a sufficient degree to guide students toward the achievement of professional competencies.

"Gathering evidence of academic accomplishment – the knowledge, skills and competencies students gain as a result of their college experience – is a continuous process. It occurs at various levels and across many dimensions, and the findings are intended to enable institutions to make improvements, assess the impact of changes in academic programs and provide evidence of learning outcomes to those to whom they are accountable." National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Assessment in Distance Learning Educational Programs

To protect the integrity of the credential awarded to students who complete educational programs, UNCW takes measures to ensure that learners who are awarded credit in online, hybrid, blended or distance education courses is the same student who successfully completes the course and is tested for the achievement of student learning outcomes. Because student learning is central to the UNCW mission, program and student learning outcomes in distance education learning environments are comparable to those required in traditional, face-to-face courses and programs, and data for assessment of program and student learning outcomes is collected and analyzed regardless of the course or program's modality.